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Points of Order

Volume 597: debated on Monday 22 June 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you will be aware, following the recent Penrose report, the House is expecting a statement before the summer recess on arrangements for compensating those affected by the NHS contaminated blood scandal. I have been sent a copy of a letter from the Health Secretary which was reported in the Sunday Express yesterday, in which he states:

“Any additional resources found for a settlement will be taken away from money spent on direct patient care for patients in the NHS”.

As the co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on haemophilia and contaminated blood, I am particularly concerned by this new approach. Has the Health Secretary indicated whether he intends to make a statement on this matter, as details of the settlement and its financing should surely be made to this House first?

I can certainly confirm that the House should be the first to hear the detail of whatever the Government decide upon. I have received no advance indication from the Secretary of State that he plans to make a statement. It is a matter for him to decide whether and when to do so, but perhaps the hon. Lady’s point of order will prompt thinking about the speed with which such a statement might usefully be made.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier today, I asked a topical question of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. It was a simple question, in which I asked “why the Government are refusing to publish—even though the Information Commissioner has instructed them to do so—the up-to-date statistics relating to the number of people who have died, having been found fit for work at their face-to-face assessment?” In the Secretary of State’s non-answer, he referred to me making “allegations” and making a reference to “suicide”. I did neither. How can we get a simple answer without false allegations being made about me and about another Member behind me? As you know, Mr Speaker, I am profoundly deaf and do not always pick up everything.

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for the manner in which she has raised it. I have no responsibility for the content of ministerial answers. It is a judgment for any Minister how to respond. She has made her point in her own way, with force but also with dignity, and it is on the record. It is for Ministers, as it is for any of us, subsequently to reflect on what they have said and to decide whether they have anything to add to it or to subtract from it. I cannot say more than that, but if the hon. Lady remains dissatisfied and wishes to correspond with the Secretary of State or to approach him in some other way, it is of course her prerogative to do so. I thank her very much for what she has said.